How to Build Your Vocabulary

While Reading,


Note: This is for Mac desktops and laptops, where you are building a vocabulary list as you look up words. PC operation is similar. Ideally, you build your vocabulary on a different device from the one you are reading on using VoiceOver.

  1. 1.Create (or open up) your vocabulary file. Also have Google up, or open up your chosen dictionary program. When you come to a word you do not know in the main document, type the word into the selected search window. If you want to look up a phrase of two or more words, type all words in the phrase.

  2. 2.Select and copy the entry word and definition.

  3. 3.Paste in the entry word or phrase after a blank line in your vocabulary list.

  4. 4.Alternatively, you can type in the key word into your Vocabulary list and then proceed with the following steps. Press down the control key and then click your mouse on the word. You will be asked if you want to look up the definition of that word. Select this option and click on it. Look the definition up on the Web if necessary.

  5. 5.Select and copy the definition, not including the base word, (which you have already pasted in). Include the pronunciation.

  6. 6.Paste in the definition on a blank line after the entry word.

  7. 7.Add two blank spaces at the end (ready for the next word).

  8. 8. Have the definition read out loud, if desired.

  9. 9. If you do not know what a word in the definition says, look up that word on the vocabulary list (after you have pasted in the original definition).

  10. 10. Then add the new definition to the vocabulary list just below. Have that second definition read out loud as well, if necessary.

  11. 11. Continue this procedure until you understand all the words in the original definition.

  12. 12. Click back on the main document when you are ready to continue reading. Make sure you understand how the new definition clarifies the text you were reading.

Best Attitude for Building Vocabulary Quickly as You Read

  1. 1.Find the meaning that is just right for the text in the main document.

  2. 2.Allow yourself to be amazed at how the right definition makes the main reading make a lot more sense, like the missing piece in a otherwise complete jigsaw puzzle. Begin to enjoy the thrill of looking up words to have text mean a lot more. Experience the ongoing joy of becoming a lifelong vocabulary builder as you read.

  3. 3.Each time you read, add words to your vocabulary list. Try to add at least ten words a day. This becomes 300 a month, and 3,600 a year, and over 10,000 every three years.

  4. 4.Review the words on this list at least five times. After awhile you can start further and further down the list.

  5. 5.In reviewing definitions, try to focus on the key word in the definition that defines the word you are looking up. The key word is usually at the beginning of the definition and is followed by modifiers of different type.

  6. 6.Make sure you can pronounce the word correctly out loud, and do so. Most people do not use words that they do not feel they can pronounce correctly out loud.

  7. 7.Also, take time to see the many ways the basic definition can be used with related meanings. This is a very easy way to greatly increase your use of basic concepts.

  8. 8.Note how a simple prefix or suffix adds meaning or changes the meaning of a base word or word root.

  9. 9.Practice using your new vocabulary words in your own speech, and writing, and reading. Very quickly you will become a much better reader, writer, speaker, listener, and thinker, and experience a great deal of joy in the process.

Note for iOS Devices: A similar approach can be used for iOS devices to just look up words, when you are not using VoiceOver. Touch a word on the screen and one of the choices that will come up is to get the definition. Choose to get the definition from the Web if necessary. As there is no true multi-tasking, building a vocabulary list by copy and paste takes much to much time to be practical on iOS devices. However, you can write down the words to input later in Pages, on your iOS device, or Mac Laptop, or Desktop. As you read, you can also record these words using a tape recorder or speech app.

Written by John F. Adams

Proportional Reading

(978) 927-9234

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